HIS STORY Joseph Caliguiri graduated from high school at 300 pounds and gained more in college. "I was eating a lot of garbage food: hamburgers, pizza, chicken wings. . . . My mother is a fantastic cook, so I'd eat her fried chicken cutlets and pork chops and then I'd go out at night and eat more." But in 2005, he dropped a quick 50 pounds after he started walking, doing light calisthenics and lifting small weights. As his 25th birthday approached, Caliguiri heard it can be harder to lose weight after that milestone. "I didn't want to go through my late 20s heavy and miss my opportunity to lose," he says. "I set myself on a mission."

DIET He banned fast food, substituting grilled chicken for processed meats and light bread for rolls or rice. He eats a breakfast of oatmeal or Kashi cereal. He's made friends with salad, lighter dressings, string beans and a new favorite, spinach.

EXERCISE "Once I exercised, that's when I experienced my success," Caliguiri says. "When I started putting the pedal to the metal, I lost 125 pounds in two years." He hit the gym 4-6 days a week, working on the treadmill, stair climber and elliptical machine. He did circuit training there and push-ups at home.

ADVICE "Anyone who's in the situation I was in knows what it's like to walk into a room and feel like everyone's thinking, 'What's wrong with this guy? He's so big, he must be lazy,' " he says. "I can't stress enough the amount of discipline it took. It's a complete lifestyle change." Today, the results of his hard work have paid off, he says, in all areas of his life. "I've experienced a complete change in perception," he says. "Even when I walk into a store, I feel like I'm treated now like a real person rather than someone to avoid."

 

Joseph Caliguiri

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26, Deer Park

Occupation Bank teller

Height 5'4"

346 Weight before 2005

@Newsday

175 Weight after 2011